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Wayfinding and Tactile Signage System Launched in Sydney PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 30 October 2014

The City of Sydney has launched the first step in a comprehensive wayfinding and tactile signage network that will make the city more accessible for people of all abilities. The $8 million Legible Sydney Wayfinding System will link central Sydney streets using tactile and braille street signs, pedestrian-friendly maps, information pylons, new signs and digital technology. The first stage will be tested along two busy city routes.

With around 2,100 informative braille and tactile signs to be installed throughout the 26 square kilometre city area, the completed tactile sign rollout will be the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.

The new tactile signs featuring white lettering and braille on an aluminium plate appear on 38 poles next to pedestrian crossing buttons along the York Street test route between Druitt and Margaret streets. While the tactile signs are designed to primarily help people who are blind and vision impaired, it will also make street location information easier to access for everyone. The new signs will replace the current rubber panels installed in the early 1990s that have become worn out from use.

On the second test route, three pylons and 16 flag and finger signs will connect Wynyard Park and Walsh Bay near Barangaroo. The 1.5 kilometre route will travel from York Street, through the Kent Street underpass and along Kent Street to Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

Pylons and tactile signs will also feature QR tags that can be used for digital links to City websites, Transport for NSW information and timetables and Destination NSW tourism information.

The signs were developed in consultation with Vision Australia and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. 

Clinical Trial of Implant in Retinitis Pigmentosa Successfully Completed PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 27 October 2014

BVA Semi Portable CamBionic Vision Australia (BVA), a consortium of researchers working together to develop bionic eye devices to restore a sense of vision to people with profound vision loss, has announced the successful completion of the first clinical trial of its prototype 24-channel percutaneous implant in patients with profound vision loss from the eye disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP). RP is an inherited, degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and often blindness through progressive degeneration of the retina and death of the photoreceptors.

The two year Prototype 24-Channel Percutaneous Connector Study, which started in May 2012, involved three RP patients with profound vision loss (bare light perception only) who each received surgically implanted suprachoroidal electrode implants to aid the restoration of vision. Surgery was completed without any adverse events.

During the two year study, the implants were remarkably stable, with no significant movement, and were shown to be safe with no unexpected device-related serious adverse events observed. Although this was designed to be primarily a proof-of-concept and safety study, the trial also generated efficacy data showing that the device improved patient’s ability to see light and shapes, and helped with navigation around obstacles and detection of items on a tabletop search task.

"This study is critically important to the continuation of our research efforts and the results exceeded all our expectations," Professor Mark Hargreaves, Chair of the BVA board, commented. "We have demonstrated clearly that our suprachoroidal implants are safe to insert surgically and cause no adverse events once in place. Significantly, we have also been able to observe that our device prototype was able to evoke meaningful visual perception in patients with profound visual loss."

With this study complete, BVA has three other programs underway. The first of these, a 44-channel device will enter the clinic in mid-2015. The consortium is also developing a 98-channel device and a high acuity device.

Brien Holden Vision Institute To Launch Institute-owned Commercial Entities PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Brien Holden Vision Institute recently announced that they are in the process of launching a series of Institute-owned commercial entities known as Brien Holden Vision companies, in Australia, China, India, U.S. and soon, in Europe, to bring to market beneficial, advanced products for myopia and myopia control, presbyopia, and for detection and management of potentially blinding eye disease.

Through collaborations with leading research and industry organisations the Brien Holden Vision Institute works to develop innovative vision correction products for the treatment of the most common eye conditions. It also seeks to apply its vision research more broadly in other medical applications.

"The Brien Holden Vision Institute philosophy has been to develop and license technologies that will improve vision and peoples' lives and from the revenues generated fund programs to develop further outstanding products and deliver affordable, quality vision for everyone…everywhere," says Professor Brien Holden, CEO, Brien Holden Vision Institute. He also says: "The role of the commercial entities that we are establishing is to bring the Institute’s and collaborator-generated product technologies to market. Brien Holden Vision Institute will remain a non-profit, non-commercial, science, translational research, licensing and humanitarian organisation. The Brien Holden Vision subsidiaries, however, are constituted and will be resourced to be successful commercial companies that will support the Institute’s goals through revenue generation and product delivery".

The first major product thrusts from the Institute to the Brien Holden Vision commercial subsidiaries are for myopia and presbyopia. The Institute’s second major product focus category is early detection and management of potentially blinding eye conditions associated with ocular and general health diseases.

Australian Diabetes Eye Screening System To Be Developed PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in Australians yet only 50 per cent of nonā€Indigenous and 20 per cent of Indigenous Australians with diabetes are having their eyes regularly tested, and this has not changed over the past decade. All people with diabetes are at risk of vision loss but most is preventable with timely access to eye checks and treatments. It is essential to substantially increase access to eye checks and treatments for Australians with diabetes to avoid unnecessary blindness and vision impairment.

The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), Diabetes Australia and Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute are planning to develop a coordinated and integrated diabetes eye screening system for Australia to reduce the number of people with diabetes developing vision impairment and blindness. These partners are hosting a visiting expert, Professor Peter Scanlon, who is the Founder and Clinical Director of the successful English National Diabetic Retinopathy Program.

Diabetes is no longer the leading cause of blindness in the UK, and this has been attributed to the introduction of an integrated screening program.  Australia currently has no organised system for diabetes eye screening and is lagging behind the UK and other countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, and Iceland which have national diabetes eye screening programs.

New Glaucoma Initiative TARRGET Launched PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 10 October 2014

In a partnership with Flinders University (SA) and the Lions Eye Institute (WA), Glaucoma Australia are funding the Targeting At Risk Relatives of Glaucoma patients for Early diagnosis and Treatment study (TARRGET), to increase knowledge and awareness of the increased risk of glaucoma to close family members of those known to be affected. The pilot phase of the study is planned to run for one year, with a further one year extension planned.

If people with glaucoma are diagnosed and treated early in the disease process, there is a much better chance that good vision can be maintained throughout their life. We already know that first degree relatives (children, siblings, and parents) of affected patients are more than 9 times more likely to develop the disease over their lifetime.

The TARRGET program will use new 'state of the art' diagnostic approaches to determine what the pick-up rate will be amongst first degree relatives, when starting with a family member who already meets the criteria of Australian & New Zealand Registry of Advanced Glaucoma (ANZRAG) for advanced field loss in a least one eye.

The investigators will randomly select 200 cases of open angle glaucoma from ANZRAG across the two study sites, and then offer a free comprehensive glaucoma screening test for any of their first degree family members over the age of 40 (younger in certain instances). The plan is to include all close relatives, whether they have previously been seen or not, and whether they believe they are affected or not. This should provide a clear answer as to how effective the new screening strategies could be if they were applied more widely.

A study such as this can help to advocate for changes to Government policy so as to improve access and affordability for effective glaucoma screening strategies.

Flinders University Opens New Eye Care Center PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 08 October 2014

Last week Flinders' University staff and industry stakeholders gathered at the Flinders Vision Clinic to celebrate the official launch of the new eye care centre, which was opened by Flinders University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Barber, and Kaurna MP Mr Chris Picton.

The Flinders Vision Clinic opened its doors on Sturt campus in March 2014 and has treated approximately 600 patients in its first six months of operation. The clinic provides high quality eye care to patients who traditionally access public hospital ophthalmology services but can be effectively treated in community-based settings.

In addition to providing first-class optometry care in state-of-the-art facilities, Professor Barber said the purpose-built learning and teaching facility will significantly enhance clinical training outcomes for Flinders students.

Mr Picton, who helped unveil a commemorative plaque at the launch event, highlighted the importance of new and innovative approaches to eye care to reduce pressure on the public hospital system, and to meet the strong demand for optometrists in rural and remote areas.

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